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Generating Ideas: Picture It!

As we discussed last week (see Graphic Brainstorming: Brain Mapping (Mind Mapping) and Fishbone Diagram), using a graphic process accesses different parts of participants' brains and can reveal new ways of looking at the topic of discussion.

Picture It
Drawing an image of a problem, issue, or organizational structure gives people a different way to express something that may be hard to put into words. Our experience has been that group members often surprise themselves by what they've been able to express in their pictures.

Imagine that your staff has been trying to figure out how parents, children, teachers, staff members, and volunteers will work together on the problem of bullying in your school. Divide your group into teams of 2-4 people. Ask each group to create an image of all these groups coming together to take on the issue of bullying. The image can be literal, figurative, or metaphorical. Supply each group with paper (either a flipchart page or a sheet of art paper) and a variety of watercolor markers. Review the assignment and agree on an ending time.

It is important to reassure everyone that drawing talent doesn't matter: the point is to express ideas in a visual way.

Key Points To Take Away

--- Use "Picture It" during the idea generation portion of a discussion.
--- Use Picture It to look at an issue in a new way, to give group participants an opportunity to express feelings, or to help define a situation that is hard to put into words.
--- Remind the group that this is not an art project: when illustrating ideas, simple figures and symbols are fine

When the groups are done, display the "posters" so everyone can see each one. Because this activity takes place during the idea generation phase of the meeting, remind people that this isn't the time to critique; rather, it is the time to understand.

Next, ask each group to explain its image. Sometimes the images are very different, and sometimes they are more similar. As facilitator, ask the group for themes, similarities, or differences they see in the posters.

Wrap up this portion of the meeting by talking about how the posters, and the ensuing discussion, has changed the group's view of the problem.

For more information about Picture It and other idea-generating activities, order your copy of Great Meetings! Great Results today.

NEXT WEEK IN GREAT MEETINGS: Use SWOT as a tool for analyzing situations, problems.

About Great Meetings

Pam Plumb and Dee Kelsey are your facilitators in charge of Education World's Great Meetings series. They are also authors of the popular guide to meeting facilitation, Great Meetings! Great Results. Together, Pam and Dee have more than 40 years' experience facilitating change and training meeting leaders.

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